Changes in the Dark
Has there ever been a time where you intentionally invited a close friend or even your significant other outside with the intention of spending some quality time together, but it didn’t go as planned? Let me guess, you probably felt as if the other person is more engrossed into whatever is going on in their devices more than you. At the present time, it is quite common to see people in public being absorbed into their devices more than ever, despite being at a party, on the public transport, train, or even your family members at home at the dinner table. Contrast to the past when technology has not yet reached its advancing points, socializing and interacting with people around us was a simple task because we didn’t have any distractions. Though when it comes to communication today, majority of the people much rather interact through social media than to talk in person, not to mention that most of the time we only use our phones and devices for social media anyways. At this rate, the amount of people with anxiety disorders and even greater health issues comes from the roots of extensive uses of social media. The internet has become such an addictive drug that constant use has shown diminishing effects on our social skills such as the inability to make eye contact, hold a conversation, as well as deficiency in listening and reading skills.
Distant is a very guilty word..
The excessive use of the internet is a way of distancing us away from people to the point where we can not hold a regular conversation of speaking properly in public. Because that we are used to habitually chatting over the internet on our computers and our devices, that give us the urge to have the constant need to be connected at all times. We also tend to use internet slangs a lot, such as “LMAO” or “LOL” to express ourselves online. The problem is that we are not supposed to use those terms in public and frequent use of it can cause us to forget how to replace those expressions when it comes to communicating in the real world. For example, we are able to reach out to the availability of a friend with clicks away by typing “wyd” meaning “what you doing” , which makes things even more easier than actually meeting up with in person. In an article called “Is Technology Making People Less Sociable?”, the author Larry Rosen states, “Our real and virtual worlds certainly overlap, as many of our virtual friends are also our real friends. But the time and effort we put into our virtual worlds limit the time to connect and especially to communicate on a deeper level in our real world”. We probably do not realize this, but internet takes away so much time that we could be using to spend time with our family and friends, leading to pull us apart. Furthermore, as we become distant from our real world friends, we start to lose that close relationship of having a regular conversation from time to time.
Being able to maintain eye contact while having a decent conversation with another individual is an important aspect that many people tends to avoid doing due to having few to zero human interactions on a daily basis. The whole point of having eye contact is so that we know the other person paying attention and respects what we are saying. When an individual is attached to the internet at home, they already have no desire of leaving the house which lessens the chance of seeing people in public. Because those individuals stay in door so often, the only one other interaction they have is communicating through the screen. Due to that concern, they are not only afraid of interacting with people face to face, but it can even give them anxiety to look at the other person in the eye. At home, we are used to using the internet and phone features of facetiming and skyping with each other where social skills of interaction is unnecessary so making eye contact was never a concern to worry about. Eventually when it is time to face the real world, our crippling anxiety will start to crawl out
As we communicate through the internet and send text messages to our peers on our devices, unknowingly we end up developing short attention span, causing us to have trouble reading words and listening to the people we are talking to. What’s even more shocking is that scientists concludes that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. According to an article, Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones, the author Leon Watson states, “Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds. Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds”. The reason for this is that humans get distracted so easily away from the real world. For instance, like hearing the sound of a text message or getting notifications of a mail which can make us forget what we were about to do initially in real life. One of the other major reasoning for this distraction effect is because we always have the tendency to bring our phones everywhere, even entering the kitchen, because inside somewhere in our head, we are already anticipating for a text.
“Health issues?.. can’t be that serious right?” Well.. you’re wrong
On the other hand, not many people realizes that having an obsessive attachment to the internet can actually lead to health issues. Some people may disagree and say that even though excessive use of social media may desocialize our public skills, it does little to no harm to us compared to people with drug addiction where their lives are at stake. However, on the long term, excessive uses of the internet can actually affect our health gradually due to the lack of sleep and exercising. Moreover, spending too much time over the internet can also lead to depression. In an Internet Addiction Statistic page, it indicates, “Poor self-rated health, unhappiness, and depression were significantly related with Internet addiction in male and female teens. Depressed girls had a much higher risk of internet addiction than boys who were experiencing similar feelings of depression”. This shows a sign of how unhappiness and depression can also be affiliated with internet addiction among both girls and boys. On the other hand, people might think that anyone with an attachment to the internet are always happy because they are probably doing something associated with their interest. Though, what they do not realize is the greater risk that comes from internet addiction and depression. Another statistic shows,“In a Chinese study, teens classified as highly addicted to the internet were twice as likely to also display self-injurious behavior“. As I mentioned earlier about the cause of depression, the display of self-injurious behaviors can be the effect of that. Internet addiction can even be a form of provoking loneliness to people causing them to feel as if all they have is the world within the screen. In return, the excessive use of the internet can in fact lead to health issues as far as self harm.
To put this topic about the internet in a respected person’s point of view, it was confirmed that Bill Gates think the internet is a joke, instead of a priority. In an exclusive interview with Bill Gates, the writer Richard Water states, “ Bill Gates describes himself as a technocrat. But he does not believe that technology will save the world. Or, to be more precise, he does not believe it can solve a tangle of entrenched and interrelated problems that afflict humanity’s most vulnerable: the spread of diseases in the developing world and the poverty, lack of opportunity and despair they engender”. This showcases that even Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft as the largest PC software company, does not think internet can solve real world problems. In his perspective, internet is just a connection for people in the world. In this case, internet to Bill Gates isn’t classified in the category of importance at all. Then again, Mark Zuckerberg, who is the co-founder of Facebook, has an alternative plan about internet access for the world which is tremendously different than Bill Gates’s stance. In another article addressed as,“Bill Gates: The Internet Won’t Save the World”, the writer Eric Levenson confirms that Mark Zuckerberg plans on providing Internet to two-thirds of the people in the world who have yet entered the internet world. It was also seem in another article, “How Much Good Will Facebook’s Internet-for-Everyone Plan Do?” about the real intention of Mark Zuckerberg. His intentions were revealed by the writer Vindu Goel that, “Facebook along with six other telecom and tech companies has unveiled a grand plan to bring Internet connectivity to the 4 billion humans who don’t yet have access, a move that “tries to pair humanitarian goals with the profit motive”. We can see that Zuckerberg perceives internet access as quite a necessity in life where he wants to help out the leftover parts of the world without internet access. Of course, respected people such Zuckerberg and billing companies like AT&T will be the groups who would not be in favor of the argument of how internet is decreasing of social skills, while Bill Gates would be in favor. These articles above not only demonstrates the differences between theses respected people’s stances who are both under similarly large organizations, but it also shows that even software companies can see more significant events in the world other than just internet alone.
One of the starting causes of internet addiction comes from the early exposure of technological gadgets to children. Parents are most likely the main group of people who influenced their kids to getting attached online. For example, giving their child a phone who is still in primary school is very unnecessary. Afterall, that is a time where they should be enjoying their childhood by playing with other kids as well as getting familiarize with human interactions to prepare for later on. After reading the article, “11 Ways to Detect and Solve Internet Addiction” by Joel Falconer, ideas for solving the constant use of the internet came to mind. I have come to conclude that this case can only be solved by parents or family members. Most parents start off not knowing how to entertain their child by using technological gadgets to cover for them as the easy way out. That case is called being lazy instead of putting in effort. What parents don’t understand is that kids cannot learn and grow through a screen, and only through the help of human interactions. Parents needs to be strict on boundaries when it comes to letting their children go online. Without boundaries, kids will never have the thought of going offline because they see those parents as easy going. Another way would definitely be parents giving their kids a serious talk about the cons of constantly going online, like how terrible it is to lose social skills. Some of the reasons why children end up only being engage with the internet world instead of outside activities is because they do not know about them. Because some parents only care about working daily, they forget the importance of bringing their kids outside to explore what the world can really offer. In other words, parents needs to not only find a way to spend more time with their children, but they also need to inform them about the outdoor activities in the world so they can actually find an interest of their own. These proposed actions can help them gain social skills as well as bettering their health. It can even help them become closer with their families by using the time they usually spend online converting to spending more time together in real life.
To finalize, social skills is a component in ourselves that can be easily taken away within time, but much harder to gain back than we could imagine. Losing social skills is like losing the light of the world because we never want to leave the house. Besides, if people doesn’t want to leave the house, doesn’t that make our ability to make eye contact with people that much more difficult? If making eye contact to look at people becomes a fear, this can cause us to not be able to recognize people we know with our natural instincts due to the lack of face to face interactions. Later on, if more people lose their social skills from the excessive use of the internet, the world can change into a place with just technology and no humans. That means human interactions and friendships would no longer be necessary anymore. It is all up to parents nowadays, depending on how strict they set boundaries for their kids on the frequent use of technology. To put this in a picture, imagine the extinction of humans. For example, no one even go outside anymore. Horrifying right? We definitely should not let that happen since numerous of us still haven’t lived life to our fullest potential yet. Furthermore, we will also become lazy individuals with the increased of health issues like obesity because we never exercise or care enough to leave the house. Worse comes to worse, more people will have the risk of suffering from depression, leading them to self harm behaviors. I’m sure no one wants to end up undergoing the death of a love one just because we forgot to pay attention to each other. For all these reasons, everyone should raise awareness around us, especially parents, so we can prevent people from losing their social skills.
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Falconer, Joel. “11 Ways to Detect and Solve Internet Addiction.” Lifehack. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.
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